About this project
The local food movement has been steadily picking up momentum. Across the country small scale agriculture has been springing up in backyards and rooftops, basements and attics, abandoned warehouses and vacant lots.
HarvestGeek is building a comprehensive set of resources for the Urban and not-so-urban Farmer. The Modern Farmer's Almanac.
We've built a sophisticated, yet easy to use device that will help remove the guesswork for new farmers and provide automation and optimization features for those more experienced. The device is deployed in your farm or garden to monitor the key environmental conditions for improving your yield. This information is relayed back to HarvestGeek where you are provided detailed analysis. This device has affectionately taken the name HarvestBot around the shop.
HarvestGeek -- The Modern Farmer's Almanac
HarvestGeek is your key to unlocking plant yield potential. Here you can upload pictures to chart your progress, make notes on successes or difficulties you've encountered, ask questions, get feedback, research other grow styles, and share your results with the community. Coupled with the analytical data data collected from your grow, you'll be presented with a detailed picture of what works and what doesn't when it comes to producing high quality crops.
Once configured HarvestGeek will automatically notify you based on the information being received from HarvestBot. You can choose to receive notifications via SMS, Facebook, Twitter, or Email should your plants reach an unhealthy situation that calls for your attention. You can also configure the AutomationStation to control equipment.
For example, you can set the desired temperature range and turn on a fan should temperatures get too high, or off should they get too low. You can also replace traditional timers for controlling lights and pumps on a schedule.
While HarvestGeek is inherently a tool for research and the free exchange of ideas, we understand and respect our users wishes when it comes to privacy. You will always have full control of your data, you will always be able to choose how much you share, and we will never keep or release personally identifying information without your permission. Additionally, we will offer a standalone method for archiving your data without connecting to the Internet and Harvestbot is fully compatible with CoSM Internet of Things platform.
That said, a lot of what we love about farming is sharing, community, and that sense of pride that comes from growing your own food. We want to encourage the sharing of knowledge and data because it will have an important role in developing and empowering the next generation of farmers.
Brains For Your Garden
HarvestBot has five station types each with a specialized function. This allows you to deploy based on the needs of your grow.
It was designed to be affordable enough for a small window garden in your home, but able to easily be scaled for use in a commercial setting with multiple greenhouses or an entire warehouse.
All stations are powered by microUSB wall warts which also serve as a means of reprogramming and associating your device with your PC.
BaseStation is the communication hub for HarvestBot.
BaseStation plugs directly into your router and transmits data back to the HarvestGeek. It has an LCD display and communicates wirelessly to the other stations with an 80m-100m approximate range.
SensorStation is core building block of HarvestBot. Equipped to wirelessly monitor
- Air temperature and Relative Humidity
- Light Intensity(LUX)
- Soil moisture
- Waterproof and submersible temperature sensor
SensorStation+ is an upgraded version of SensorStation. Wirelessly monitor
- NDIR CO2 sensor
- High Accuracy Air Temperature and Relative Humidity
- Infrared and Full Spectrum Light Intensity readings - 1 - 40,000lux
- Soil moisture
HydroStation is an advanced unit tailored towards hydroponic grows. Wirelessly monitor
- Two removable probes using standard connectors monitoring
- pH level
- Electrical Conductivity (EC) convertible to PPM
AutomationStation controls lights, fans, pumps, air conditioners, misters etc from any mobile device.
- Capable of controlling 4 outlets remotely. Each rated for 15a
- Configure to switch on/off through web interface
- Set up custom automation such as when pH is low or temperature is high
- Set up timed automation such as 18 hours on and 6 hours off
See www.harvestgeek.com for more information.
HarvestBot can be set up with any number of stations of your choosing. Each station can work independently, with the exception of the BaseStation which can send or receive to any other station. Each BaseStation can communicate with up to 26 additional stations.
Check out our reward levels for some common configurations we have found useful in various size farms.
HarvestGeek has been a one man show to this point, created by Michael Alt of Syracuse, NY. Originally designed for mushroom cultivation, the idea was eventually scaled and modified to be used in gardens, greenhouses, and most importantly hydroponics.
A graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, his background is primarily in software development and this is his first foray into the hardware world. He was working at Sensis Corp. as a Software Engineer and contractor for the DoD when one of his co-workers showed him a remote weather monitor and door controller for his chicken coop that he'd built. It was this exposure that spurred his interest into the world of microcontrollers.
Hackerspace Charlotte - Without these guys and gals it wouldn't be possible. Hackerspaces are great resources and a treasure trove of knowledge and inspiration.
Lila's Garden - Partnering with Thomas from Lila's garden was essential to making this a reality. Provided a real world test bed for a commercial indoor hydroponic farm.
HarvestBot has evolved from a simple Arduino with some sensors stuck on it to five individual units communicating wirelessly to each other and the Internet. All the components have been converted to a single PCB which was designed and ordered from an online manufacturer. This one done over the last year by a single individual.
How we will grow
Once the campaign is funded, the team will grow to 3-4 individuals in order to make the rough prototype a polished product. I am currently in talks with potential candidates for team members and should have them ready and up to speed by the end of the campaign.
How we will produce
The original prototypes have since been converted so each has their own custom PCB. The PCBs and Bill of Materials still have several iterations to go both in terms of efficacy and cost cutting. Once finalized, we will have them sent out to local companies for manufacturing and assembly. The laser cut enclosures you see in the prototypes will be replaced by injection molded plastic cases that are water resistant.
We have local contacts in manufacturing and plastic injection molding (thanks to Thomas of Lila's Garden) who are ready to work with us as soon as funding is complete. We're making a committed effort to keep our assembly and manufacturing local.
Our Commitment Open Source Hardware
The hardware is and always will be open-source. You'll be able to build your own devices and add them to your existing HarvestGeek network or create a network of your own devices. Likewise, the software on the device is open-source, so hack away. There will also be a publicly available API for integrating your devices into HarvestGeek or hosting HarvestGeek locally.
How will funds be used?
The majority of the funds (almost 70%) are going towards hardware production costs. The funding goal was set based on what it is going to cost to have a manufactured run of HarvestBots. The remaining funds are being used towards Web Development / Hosting costs for the HarvestGeek community, and ~10% to cover Kickstarter and Amazon fees.
We want to thank each of you because this is only made possible with your involvement. We're very passionate about what we do here and having a positive impact in the farming and technology. The data and knowledge gathered from small farms around the world could have widespread implications for agricultural education and research. It could very well lead to innovations that tackle serious problems we're facing such as sustainable food production and the amelioration of food deserts. It has the potential to change our attitudes towards food, how we approach commercial agriculture, food production and the means with which we do so.
Risks and challenges
The three main challenges we're facing with fulfilling our rewards our engineering, manufacturing and user experience.
We're working with local individuals and experts in all three fields that have coached us up until this point, and whose experience without which this would never have been possible. Their ongoing support and guidance is crucial since this is our first time bringing a physical product through production and manufacturing.
The HarvestGeek team will also grow to approximately four individuals which will undoubtedly have hiccups of its own. Our office space will be much busier and we will need to work together through a stressful and exciting launch phase.
Providing an awesome and comprehensive set of tools from the data that is collected is a long term goal and we probably won't get it right the first time. There is a lot of implied value collecting detailed agricultural data, and we would love to see HarvestGeek used in the educational and research sector to better our understanding of plant growth and help develop new low cost solutions for food production. In order to do that the user interface has to maintain the proper balance between sophistication and ease-of-use. We also need to provide rich data analysis tools to our users that will in turn provide value to the community as a whole.
Snags and bumps in the road are inevitable with a project such as this and there is no way to plan for every scenario, but we've positioned ourselves for success by surrounding ourselves with individuals that not only have the experience necessary to help captain the ship through a storm, but ones that also genuinely believe in our vision.
We're confident that despite these challenges we have the resources and drive to make this a success and deliver on time and within budget.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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